Investing in a new welder feels risky, and it should because a lot of money is on the line when looking for a new welder. It should not be threaded lightly, and for that reason, I decided to write a short review on the Vulcan MIGMax 215.
So let’s have a deeper look into the details into this machine to have a better understanding of what you will get for your money.
Vulcan MIGMAX 215 Review
Though the Vulcan welders are not made in the US, they offer a lot of features for a considerably low price. For example, the synergic mode that chooses the right settings automatically for you depending on the inputs of your choosing. Furthermore, it is spool gun compatible and can run off regular household as well as 220V outlet. All of these features make it a relatively competitive machine in today’s’ market.
But let’s not skip ahead and dissect the features of the machine completely.
The Power source to run the welder
As I briefly mentioned in the last paragraph, the Vulcan MIGMax can run on multiple voltage systems. 110V and 220V both are an option, so this makes is a bit more versatile in terms where you can use the machine. For example, if you are just starting out and you do not have a 220v in place, but you potentially want to upgrade in the feature, a Multi-Voltage machine would be a thing to consider.
What I do like about it is the fact that has two different input plugs on the back. One for 220V and one for 120V. – So it does need 2 different power cables instead of utilizing one. But thanks to the separate plugs on the back, you can create your own power cord if you have some cable and you manage to find the right connector. That way you do not need an extension cord, or if you accidentally damage your original cord, you do not have to pay an arm and leg to get it fixed.
Does MIGMAX 215 pack a punch?
The Vulcan does have quite a bit of oomph, to be honest. Of course, at 120V electrical system, you can not use the maximum output, but still, it is capable of producing 140A @ 120V. So on the 120V system, the maximum thickness you can weld with it is around 1/8” to 3/16 if you are really pushing the limits.
On the 220V system, however, as the model number indicates, 215 Amps out of it. It is quite a lot of power from such a small welder. You can weld up to 3/8 thick mild steel plate with it.
On the lower end of settings, the lowest you can go on both circuits is 30A, so it is safe to say that you can marry sheet metal as thin as 30 Ga without much hassle.
As far as the welding time or duty cycle goes, at 110V it is rated 40% @ 100 amps. At 220V it is rated 25% @ 200A. Since it uses inverters, the duty cycle is quite high. It definitely is decent and the cooling fans I believe have an impact on that. It has two, and they run continuously. The fans are not making much noise, so they are not annoying, but it helps to save money on the Fan On-Demand Technology as well as keeping the welder cool.
The overall design of The Vulcan 215
The overall design of the welder is decent. A lot more effort has been put into it when compared to some cheaper welders. The metal shell makes it feel durable, but the plastic used for the front and back panels feel cheap. They are not flimsy, but still, they do not feel super expensive. It is used on the welder more as a design element in my opinion rather than added for practicality.
Controls of the machine
Now we are getting to the most interesting part of the welder that probably many of you were looking forward to. The controls of the MIGMax 215.
Not many welders at this price range have an Auto-set or synergic feature. The first welder that comes to mind when I think about that is the Miller 211, and the Miller is not even close to the price of this unit.
So the Vulcan does have the capabilities of choosing the right settings for you that are pre-programmed into the machine. For that, you need to set a few parameters from the front panel. The first one is the type of welding along with the gas mixture. Then you need to choose the wire diameter you are using and the material thickness you are going to weld. Then it will set you wire feed speed automatically.
My explanation might be too complicated for some novices, so if you decide to invest in the machine, it has a cheat sheet behind the spool storage door and I am sure that even the most inexperienced guys and gals get a hold of it in no time.
The settings can also be set manually, which is a great thing. I have seen some welders that do not have the possibility to set all the settings yourself and that would be a serious issue in some cases. What bothers me the most with the MIGMax 215, is that when you are using the synergic mode, it is not possible to fine-tune the voltage. It seems to have stepped control in synergic mode. For example, if you choose the material thickness to be 14 gauge but it burns too hot and you would like to dial down a bit from the voltage knob, it does not change until you move the knob all the way down to 16 Ga, and then the changes in settings are immediate and too far off. In my eyes, it is a huge downside, to be honest.
Weight and portability
For those who need a portable machine with flux core, it is really portable, no doubt about that but I am not sure if I would go on the field with it if I had to carry a shielding gas bottle with me. The machine itself weighs 44 LBS which is next to nothing compared to the older generation transformer welders. Add a spool on 10 LB wire and you have 55 pounds, which is still lighter in weight than transformer welders.
For moving it around with shielding gas attached I would also invest in a proper welding cart or make it myself. It is just a personal preference, and if you are working on small projects in the close proximity of the welder, it is not an issue.
Safety and Warranty
From the safety side, it does have thermal overload protection like all welders do. The one thing that should be added is a filter to the fan system. It could filter out most of the metal particles that will get sucked into the machine, and in the long run, it will fry the circuit board.
As an upside, the Vulcan offers 1 Year satisfaction guarantee to the 215 MIGMax welders. If I am not mistaken, you can send it back, no questions asked if any problems arise.
Usability of the Vulcan 215 MIGMax Wire feeder
The welder is suitable for virtually any job you might think of. It can handle stainless steel, mild steel as well as aluminum because it is spool gun compatible. As long as you stay in the range of the machine’s capabilities, you can work on pretty much everything starting with scrap metal art up to fabrication jobs to make money with welding.
Things that could be improved
- Some of the first few things that could be improved is the synergic mode. I bet many of the potential customers would love to fine-tune the settings after the welder has set the first parameters.
- Secondly, I would like if they added the filter to the cooling system to filter out some of the dust and metal particles that will get sucked into the machine in the shop environment.
- And last but not least, most of the welding guns with this machine, right out of the box the nozzle of the welding gun is wobbly. It does not sit tight and it is a bit annoying.
Why it is a good option for your money
For the money, it does pack a ton of features, and I think it is decent for a hobby welder or a weekend warrior who has some big bucks to spend on a fancier welder with a lot of features but not enough for Lincoln or Miller. For the price, it is a great welder, but I would consider this one as well.
For professional use I do not have a strong belief that it would last for a very long time, but on the other hand, it might surprise. It all depends on how you take care of your equipment. For example, from time to time I would take it apart and clean the dust out to avoid any failures due to that.
Some extra equipment you might need to start with welding with MIGMax
If you are new to welding, this part is for you. I want you to keep in mind that safety is extremely important when it comes to welding. So make sure you have proper PPE gear like welding hood, gloves made out of cowhide and a welding jacket. Definitely do not wear any nylon clothes.
Besides that, the MIGMax 215 includes everything to start welding right out of the box. They include the welding gun, the gas regulator as well as two spools of sample wires. One is flux core and one is regular MIG filler.
From experience, they do not include the best wire, so make sure you pick up something more reputable. I would recommend this from Amazon because that is what I use.
Finally, you made it to the end, and I hope that this Review on Vulcan MIGMax 215 gave you enough insight to make the right decision. I think that the welder packs a ton of power and features for the money, and it is worth trying it out if you are not looking for a welder for industrial-scale jobs. For a weekend warrior, I believe it will last for a long time. However, take a look at this article as well.
Nevertheless, it welds as good as any other MIG as long as proper good quality filler wire is used.